Local patients seek kidney donors

Local patients seek kidney donors

 When Suzy Fischer of Livingston was 24, she was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease, a result of previously undiagnosed immature kidneys that never fully developed. She went into kidney failure. At 25, she received a kidney transplant from someone who had recently died.

Now, 13 years later, that kidney is failing, and she will have to start dialysis if it deteriorates much more.

Fischer, a client at JESPY House in South Orange, was born with special needs. According to her mother, Jane Fischer, “Through sheer tenacity, courage, and strength, she has defied all the odds and has overcome so many hardships. She fought her sentence in life every minute of every day with her never-give-up attitude, combined with a kind and gentle soul. To know her is truly to love her.”

With each challenge, Jane recalled, Suzy “continually reassured me, ‘Don’t worry, mom. We’ll keep fighting.’” Now, Jane said, “I am frantic to help her.”

Although Fischer’s name is listed on registries for donors, the wait can be more than seven years in New Jersey, according to some estimates. In addition, a kidney from a living donor usually lasts longer. Unfortunately for Fischer, as with many others in her position, no one in her family is a good match. So her mother is turning in a different direction. She is seeking what is known as an altruistic donor.

The Altruistic Living Donor Program at Barnabas Health matches donors with recipients awaiting transplantation. The transplant team evaluates all potential living donors, whether they are relatives, community members, or completely unknown to the recipient.

At least one other member of the community (who wishes to remain anonymous) is also seeking such a donor, according to a June 24 letter sent to congregants of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, where the Fischers are members.

“An altruistic donor is a woman or man who chooses to donate a kidney to someone in need whom they do not know,” wrote Rabbi Cliff Kulwin. “The altruistic donor receives nothing from the donation, aside, of course, from that gratification that surely comes from having given — literally — the gift of life.”

For more information regarding donating to Suzy Fischer, contact Jane Fischer at jyf48@aol.com. For information regarding donating to the other community member, contact Marie Morgievich, transplant nurse practitioner and manager of the Living Donor Institute at Saint Barnabas Hospital, at 973-322-2286 or mmorgievich@barnabashealth.org.

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